Arj Barker is one of comedy’s big names for a good reason. He is incredibly, indubitably funny. Arj’s third DVD Joy Harvest is no exception. Performed at a packed out Sydney Opera House, his performance was adroit and absolutely hilarious.
Arj loves Australia, blessing us with his presence frequently. When I questioned what it was that he loved about our country, Arj rattled off a lengthy list of quintessential Australian features including: “wildlife”, “the country’s beauty”, “friends”, “the mild Melbourne weather”.
Accidently, I raised my eyebrows enough that he followed my gaze to the nearby window. The trees swayed violently in the howling wind, while the rain lashed incessantly at our window.
“Well today may not be a great example,” Arj corrected. “Also my favourite two comedy festivals would honestly be Adelaide and Melbourne.
“It helps that the Australian audiences have been very receptive, and grown over the years, which makes it nice to spend time here. They like to see my shows and I like doing them so it’s win-win. It’s a joy harvest, ” Arj said, cheekily throwing in a plug for his latest DVD.
“The [title] idea comes from me performing shows. I’m the joy farmer and I’m harvesting the joy.” Arj plucked at the air to indicate his extraction of invisible joy from his imagined audience.
“It’s pretty new-age, I suppose. In line with that, it’s packaged environmentally.”
When speaking of the environment, Arj’s face became somber and he looked entirely genuine in his concern.
“I care about the environment a lot. I feel overwhelmed and even a little bit cynical. I know a lot of people care, but I don’t know if it’s the right amount of people to fix the issues we face… I’m a little in awe of humans. I’m disappointed in the way we treat the planet.”
To ensure he wasn’t coming across superior he confessed: “then again I’m also aware that I have a sizeable carbon footprint myself. I have to travel a lot,” Arj admitted justly. “For work, I’m not trying to brag,” he added, quick to ensure he didn’t seem like he was trying to show off.
Arj truly doesn’t seem the bragging sort, he clearly loves what he does and feels lucky to be able to do it.
“My best moment was doing Letterman. It was very validating, something I had dreamed of. There’s been tonnes of great times, too many to count.”
There’s an unmistakable spark in Arj’s eyes when he talks of Letterman and performing. It’s nice to know that even the most famous comedians consider themselves very lucky.
Arj doesn’t seem to take anything for granted. Such passion is demonstrable when he performs; contributing to the superlative standards he bequeaths his audiences with.
Nevertheless, even the greats have awkward or regretful performances, something Arj recalled with justifiable detail. An experience like this would stay with you.
“I performed a gig where my fly was unzipped. I was going through a ‘heavy metal’ phase. When I look back now it looks like I was cross-dressing. I had silver spandex pants on and they were so tight I couldn’t wear underwear. The zipper came down on its own. Luckily I noticed before I finished my entire set with a tuft of… well this was before the days of Brazilians.” Oh dear.
While on the topic of all things furry, Arj’s latest DVD Joy Harvest contains an abundance of animal jokes. Arj admitted he does love animals, but travelling so much he only gets to part-own a cat.
“If I could I would own both a cat and a dog. I like both, I don’t see why you have to choose.” After confessing previously to loving both Sydney and Melbourne, it’s safe to assume Arj refuses to agree with preconceived rivalries. Next he’ll admit he is a fan of both Edward and Jacob – crazy nonconformist…
Another theme throughout Joy Harvest is of heightened security and Illuminati conspiracy theories.
“I do think that elements of Illuminati theories are real. You can see before your eyes the gradual decrease of privacy. I just think it’s important to keep an open mind and never assume you know everything.
“I also believe in UFOs. I’m not saying they are extraterrestrial but I believe there’s unexplained sightings that are quite bizarre. They’re not always explainable. Wait explicable?” I nodded and he continued. “Yeah ok so I guess UFOs are not always something you can explic.”
What’s next for Arj? “I’ll be doing some shows next year with Flight Of The Conchords.”
When I asked about how his role on Flight Of The Conchords came about ,he explained that he was already friends with the lads. They were looking for “an American, that’s kind of a dick, but kind of harmless, who thinks he’s cool. Wait I’ve got it, let’s call Arj Barker.”
BY TESS WOODWARD
I’ve surely no need to explain why you should pick up a copy of Arj Barker’s latest DVD, Joy Harvest which is out now. Harvest yourself 60 minutes of pure joy and witness just how good comedy can get.